Just a brief background of myself, having served in the South African Police for 14 years as a K9 handler and a keen ”natural” bodybuilder I took early retirement 1997.
I went into business owning a coffee shop in the center of Durban, South Africa for 10 years after which I sold it and went on to own a successful Real Estate Company, West of Durban in an area called the Upper Highway.
I carried on with gym sometimes spending up to 4 hrs a day working out. I also continued with my love of training of K9s and their handlers during my spare time.
It was during this time period after 2005 onwards that my path crossed with Herbie Gibbons.
Our common interest grew to a friendship to a point where he would share valuable ideas and tips on weight training.
Over time he would invite me to his humble home in Monteseel for tea and we would have long in depth discussions and interesting conversations around weight training and workouts and life in general. As our friendship grew he would share his ‘previous life’ with me as a bodybuilder, often talking about Rhodesia and his life there in what was then a great country.
Herbie would often cycle when he was up for it or drive to my business which was ”down” the road from where he lived and visit me for tea and again long conversations about bodybuilding. I met his son Ernest Gibbons on numerous occasions and he would often thank me for being around for his Dad when he couldn’t.
Herbie and I had a good friendship and I would go to his home whenever he needed assistance with things around the home or advice on selling / marketing his property.
It was around 2009/2010 Herbie called me to his home and gave me a collection of weight training books and manuals that he had unpacked and said I must have them.
I had asked him why he was going through all his belongings to which he said if he doesn’t sort them out they will just get thrown away when he is gone.
In 2011 I got an opportunity to go to America because of my Police K9 experience and then onto the war in Afghanistan where I served as a K9 handler and then as Head K9 Trainer for an American company called AMK9.
I was based at Bagram Air force Base where I was tasked with evaluating and ensuring the K9s and their handlers coming into the operational theater were capable and mentally up for the challenges that awaited them.
It was a dream of mine to end my working dog career off on a “high note”. Of which I feel I have accomplished by doing and serving in a Great American company contracted to the U.S Military for the war against terrorism.
I left the war zone in 2013 to come back to my country, South Africa, due to personal family issues (my wifes father having taking ill and passed away) as well as my own son that was battling with a rare blood condition that I can now say he has fully recovered from.
Sadly, I was told by Herbies daughter that Herbie had passed away whilst I was in Afghanistan.
I was deeply saddened to hear the news, as I never had a chance to say goodbye when I went to America and later Afghanistan.
We had a lot in common not withstanding the fact that I was the same age as his son but also that my own father had passed away in a vehicle accident when i was 8 years old.
I regarded him as a ”father figure” of some sorts.
I feel honored to have crossed paths and built a good friendship with a very likeable and humble man that was once a well known personality in his country Rhodesia.
Maybe when I reflect back to the time he gave me some ”memorabilia” (those weight training books), that was his goodbye.
Rest in Peace Gentle Giant.
Dean Du Preez
See Success Over Adversity In Bodybuilding for more Herbert Gibbons